Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Cat Balance

I have a new respect for cat-balance.

For those who don't know what it is, it's quadrupedie (crawling, but hands and feet, not knees) on a rail (or railing, as I'm told it's more properly called). It's called cat-balance presumably because this is how cats walk along the top of fences. You should move your hands and feet in same order as a cat - left hand and foot in the middle, right hand and foot front and back (or vice versa) and then alternate moving the back foot or the back hand. The reason for this is something to do with balance and making yourself closer into the middle and/or diamond shaped instead of parallelogram shaped to be more stable (I think), but try it for yourself and you should see.

Not the best photo but hopefully you get the ideaalso

I haven't done this drill properly for at least a year, despite knowing it's theoretical benefits, but with a minor ankle injury from a precision (very minor, it's barely noticeable only three days on but I'm giving it until next weekend) and a wrist weakness from a few months ago I thought it was an ideal movement to practice today. I was right.

The first suitable rail I found was about 60m long going up a hillside path at the side of a road, the incline was noticeable but not huge. After testing it out and finding it harder than I'd anticipated, I set myself the challenge of getting from one end to the other, with a checkpoint on each 2.5m section for when I fell off. I probably fell off somewhere between fifteen and twenty times overall.

From halfway, sweat started dripping off my face and my breathing was heavy. Then my wrists because sore, my arms started to shake, it became painful round the back of my shoulders and, right at the end, one of my quads started to cramp up. I would guess it took me around twenty-fine minutes to complete, but I wasn't timing and could have been longer (or maybe it just felt like longer!).

It's a pretty good all round exercise! It works wrist strength, the general core (front and, I think, back too), and general upper body; it also works endurance for the quads (hence the cramping) and around the ankle, though maybe not quite as much; and last but not least, balance and coordination. It's also useful because it is non-impact (apart from when you fall off), so if you have some sort of wrist or ankle injury then this drill should be possible sooner than other movements (running or weight on hands). It can be done in all weather and all light conditions, so it's a pretty flexible drill.

From this glowing feedback, you probably won't be surprised that I would recommend that you include cat-balance more in your training than it probably already is (if mine was anything to go by). If it's too easy, crawl downhill or backwards (or upwill-backwards). If that's too easy, also blindfold yourself.

I remember being asked during a session (by Harry, I think) whether there's any practical application (in movement) outside of being a drill. Initially I was unable to answer, though it is definitely a drill worth practising anway, but I have since thought of one: climbing up (or down) something that's around a 45-degree angle. It's too steep to comfortably walk on, but not vertical enough that it can be climbed, so crawling works best. This isn't particularly common and this drill is more than worth doing just for the drill's sake, but it does at least have some possible application!

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Parkour: Be Useful

I've recently read the (out-of-copyright) translation of David Belle's book about parkour. It's definitely worth a read - tells you more about parkour, in a way, but also isn't about physical parkour and is more a discussion of his life and life philosophy, meaning that even if you don't care for parkour it's still very interesting. I also saw a couple of interview transcripts from David earlier today, which were also quite interesting.

I don't want to talk about what parkour is or isn't. But I will talk about a part of it. 

One saying that David and the French guys had (they had quite a few little slogans) was "ĂȘtre fort pour ĂȘtre utile". They actually got this from George Herbert, the guy who developed Methode Naturelle*, and I hadn't realised the extent to which Parkour developed out of that. At one point David even says that people should do two years of methode naturelle training before starting parkour.

Anyway, this saying has been taken on by parkour too. Be strong to be useful. I'm going to talk about it a bit and say what it means for us in actual application.

The first meaning I see is that we should be strong. Strong is good for a number of reasons (I'll take it as given that you agree that 'strong is good'). For parkour especially, when we're bouncing around concrete, strength is useful. We don't want to damage our bodies from this training (on the whole, we're making them better, but there can be damage as part of this whole), both through normal training and when we fall. Lots of experienced parkour people can fall quite spectacularly but still be fine - for example, David Belle here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A86eL9ynDXo - which is quite incredible. Watch it and marvel. Another of the parkour sayings is 'etre et durer' - to do and to last - which I won't go into in more detail (this post is long enough already), but thought worth mentioning.
A few of us doing some strength training. It's also 'functional'!
The second meaning I see is that it means that the strength we want is useful strength. It isn't enough to be able to bench 100kg, what's more important is whether you can get on top of a wall you've grabbed with one hand, onto a bar you're dangling from, or how far you can carry somebody, or all of these other useful things. In this sense, what we want is functional strength. It's not about bodybuilding but your physical ability to actually do, not just muscles which look good and have some statistical strength. This also means strengthening the tendons and ligaments and bones, which some gym training doesn't really do.

'Functional strength' is a phrase thrown about a lot among people who exercise. I think it's commonly used to mean exercises which aren't isolated liner muscle movements (like bicep curl or leg press) but instead ones with a chain of muscles doing something, as typically these have some actual use (function) to them. But there's more to it than that. Not only does the body part of us have to be strong enough to do something, but we have to be able to mentally do it too. Obviously we need the technique for it, but we also need to be able to do it. This sometimes means overcoming fear: you aren't able to use your ability and be useful if your fear stops you (or inhibits you, as it's usually harder to do things well while scared). This is true function: what the limits of your ability are. Sometimes these are physical (I can jump so far, so precisely, I can do this much weight, I can pull myself onto a wall this many times, I can get up a wall this high). Also to take into account is consistency: being able to grab a 14ft wall one time in ten doesn't help if you're being chased by a dog and need to make it, for example. And third, as I said, is the mental limits. "Yes, I can make this jump, but only if I prepare myself for it." Or, "I can do a cat-leap 10ft, but if there was a drop beneath my I'd be too scared to do it". 
Rail precisions are scary
Until recently, that's all I thought this phrase meant. Be strong, and have useful strength. Turns out there's more to it than that.

"Be strong to be useful" doesn't just mean we're being strong so that we're able to be useful (like functional strength); it also means that with our strength we should be useful. It's a call to actually be useful. This the same idea as "with great power comes great responsibility": do something with your strength. Carry someone's shopping, or a suitcase up the stairs, or whatever.

Interestingly, David Belle seems to think that a key purpose (if not the main one) of his parkour training was so that he could rescue his family if need be - his family had a past of being fire fighters (good ones, in the Paris squad which apparently has a great reputation). Blane (Chris Rowat, now with PKGen in London, very inspirational) has said a similar thing in the past.They train for other reasons too (or at least get other benefits from parkour), but this is a focus for them. This is probably utility fully realised, the ability to save someone's life. Both physically and mentally (especially not being overwhelmed by fear and being able to focus and do). This is why, for example, height training is good, as that gives us fear, and practising with fear helps you to learn to deal with it. Similarly with any jump that needs breaking or a movement that makes you scared. 
Moving over a wall quickly
 "Ok, great!", I imagine you saying, "you talked in a philosophical way about the discipline of parkour.". How about some application of all this to training.

In parkour, we must train to be useful. There's the obvious stuff: improve what you can do, get stronger, overcome fear and other barriers. That's what we do in parkour training most of the time (aesthetics are kind-of irrelevant, and showing off is not the point and is bad for parkour). Then there's the active step of actually being useful. But here's some suggestions for how to train to be more useful.

1. Train in all conditions. Not reluctantly, but embrace it. When it rains, you've got this whole new environment to try out and challenge yourself in (I've written about this before on the Oxford Parkour blog). But you also need to become capable of moving in the rain, not being scared, and knowing how the rain affects the environment for what you can and can't do. Train in the cold, train in the heat, train in the wet and the icy. If you have to use real parkour (instead of artificial training) by running for the bus, escaping from something, or saving a life, you can't choose the conditions, so get used to it.

2.  Train in a more realistic way. I've noticed this when I've had to run for the train this week: there's no warm-up and you need to be ready. Try doing some training without doing a warm-up and wearing the clothes you usually wear, and see what you can do. Go straight for the difficult stuff (for you) and with speed, because when it comes to it you have to get it right first time. 

3. You should always be ready. Physically, this means looking after it with stretches/mobility/massage (lacrosse ball!) and nutrition. Mentally, pay attention: be aware as you walk. Don't listen to music too loud or get distracted by your smartphone; instead be aware of what's going on and the environment you're in. When I'm out at night or in a dodgy area or get a bad vibe, I pay more attention. But I do it at normal times too: seeing where cars are, what other people are doing, etc. (This has its own merit instead of being incase something bad happens, it means I have fewer accidents and can do things like cross roads at efficient times and wait less at traffic lights). Be always ready, always alert, and ready to act without hesitation if you need to, as if something happens you probably won't have time: for example if somebody starts a fight, tries to steal from you, or a car is going to crash into you.

So there are some thoughts of mine about parkour philosophy and training style!

*Methode Naturelle (natural method) is a style of training meant to be all-round and natural, including running/swimming/fighting/climbing/lifting heavy things like rocks and logs/other things. It's modern reincarnation is the MovNat franchise (not sure if franchise is the right word), which is also great.

(This post is written by Alex, also at www.alexmay.co.uk, my blog which also includes non-parkour things)

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Parkour Begins!

Training at one of our regular spots, Saint Giles

2013's Term time is finally upon us!

This week we have had a very successful 3 days at the University Freshers Fair. If we met you over there, then here's a big "Hello!" and a warm welcome to our little community! We have manage to coerce enthuse over 200 of you guys to take a peek at what we get up to, so without further ado - here is a message from Olly with regards to our plan for Week 1 of the 2013 term!

Hi - and welcome to the most funnest and cooliest club in Oxford! 
It was great to meet all you guys at the Freshers' Fair last week. Seriously pleased that so many of you are ready to give Parkour a go for the first time - I know you're going to love it! 
Here, as promised, is the timetable for next week. Normally this info would only be on our FB page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/OXFPK/ - do join us right now!) but we'd like to keep things really easy this week.
  • Tuesday 15th October: 4pmSt Giles Monument with Olly (me)
  • Thursday 17th October: 6pm, St Giles with Nikolay
  • Saturday 19th October: 11am, St Giles with Josh (VP)

These first sessions at St Giles (click for a google map of where it is located) are going to be focused on beginners. The hope is that more experienced practitioners will be on hand to assist the official coach and offer any additional tips. All sessions are free to everyone in the whole club next week. Also, all first-timers are free whenever they make their first appearance,whichever week that might be.
We can, by the way, introduce you to the sport at any time (even in week 7) so don't feel you've missed the boat if your all-consuming new interest in yodelling means you don't have time to meet us this first week. You can come to one, none or all of the sessions, no probs. 
There is no joining fee or special equipment needed to Join OXPK; just good trainers (flexible and grippy) and weather-appropriate clothing. From week two onwards though there will be a small charge (a few shekles) per session which will cover various costs that the club must bear, so make the most of week one to save your pennies! 
The times and places will certainly vary a bit each week, (Hopefully that will mean that there's always one or more timings that suit you.) Come and join our FB page and you'll always know what's happening. Even the above info is subject to change! 
We're looking forward to welcoming all you new members to the club, so please scribble your first parkour meet in your diary now! 

Olly ~ OXPK President

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Alex's Parkour Video

Parkour Video Blog Post

Hey guys, Alex here. I made a parkour video - see http://youtu.be/PFKiiWrC3iE - and this blog post is to go with it. I've been doing parkour for a bit over three years, I think, though never training particularly intensely for it it's been the sort of training I've been doing. I also started up a group in Oxford, which I coached for a year.


1. “This is not a typical show-off video”. Lots of parkour videos are people showing how skilful they are and how impressive what they can do is. I don't have anything against those videos as such (although they can often corrupt the training and make people train to make videos and show off, this isn't always the case), but that isn't what I'm trying to do here. I'm not trying to show off and showcase what I can do as such - I train for myself – rather, I want to use the video with this post as a commentary to explain what parkour is. I actually got the idea from talking to my grandparents and other relatives and parkour is often hard to explain, but I also want to use it to try to help friends (and anybody else who sees this, if it gets shared) understand what parkour is, as parkour properly isn't about “jumping off buildings and doing flips”. If you watch it and think, “that doesn't look too hard”, then maybe that'll encourage you to give it a go. I want to show stuff that I actually practise in training, as show-off videos often just show a small part of it (the more impressive stuff).

Along this theme, I also tried to make everything as realistic as possible and not do lots of reshoots and show it perfectly for the camera. Most of the clips shown are the first or second attempt at that time, unless something went wrong with the filming, as I wanted to show what is actually me instead of a polished version I put forward (it was quite hard to resist that corruption). There isn't much in it that is particularly new, but that's the point of having done training in the past: so that when you come to doing something for the first time that time, it's better than otherwise would have been.

2. I think it's best to read the blog and the video at the same time, as the post will be a commentary on the video, explaining what I am doing and why. I don't know how easy this will actually be, but I'll put in time references so you can do that.

3. This is the first video I've ever made, so the editing isn't great. A lot of this is me, though sometimes the software did something wrong (like mashing a fade or speeding up footage). I also didn't manage to edit the sound out a bit. It was filmed over three days while I was in Oxford to coach parkour, and many of the ideas and filming came from Brendan Riley (coach with EMP Parkour in the West Midlands).

4. I'm not going to try and give a definition of parkour as such, and a coherent one is quite hard to find. Some describe it as efficient movement (which is only a part of it), but it's more like a discipline of training or exercise, the idea as a whole of improving your own capabilities and movement, including the mental side of it. This video talks more about the different physical movements which are a part of this. The physical training is all about movement: instead of going to a gym and lifting weights to get muscle and look big, it's about moving round the environment to train yourself to be strong and useful (able to do things, instead of just lift weight). It's good all-round training, working pretty much all of the body and in different ways (strength and stamina), lots of variety in the movement, and because there's lots of moving it's good for flexibility and mobility too. As well as this, it's great mentally to for challenging yourself, fighting fears, gaining discipline, etc.

The Video

Introduction (0:00 – 0:31). I had two ideas for an introduction, the backflip with backdrop and me running into shot. For the backflip, I originally wanted with the Radcliff Camera in the background, as that's the typical Oxford picture, but it was covered in scaffolding, so All Souls college (I think) is the backdrop. The actual flip I put in too much power and staggered backwards, but I like the shot with the backdrop.

People argue that a backflip isn't strictly parkour, but I don't want to get into that here. Parkour is movement training with a certain philosophy, and I think a backflip can fit into that as being useful for training. It means a lot to me as learning to backflip helped massively with confidence and dealing with fear, and it took me a long time to learn it (initially, even trying with two people to help me round I was completely scared of doing it to me, and it's a massive leap that I'm able to do them almost without thinking now).

The second shot was just a nice entrance in nice scenery, the point was just to get the Oxford Parkour logo in there. It's a group for parkour in Oxford (!) which I started last year, and it's been great to bring together a small community to train together.

With the text sequence, in editing I managed to mix up the order a bit (as you can obviously see). That's my fault, I left it to the last minute to finish the video (late at night when I was flying to Venice the following morning) and didn't check it through and didn't have time to redo it.

0:31-0:41. This was just a little movement sequence in New College cloisters to go in and out of the arches. A vault through an arch, a spin on the wall, then a bigger vault out to clear the table.

0:45-1:05. These just show different possible combinations of vaults going at different angles. This is just to show a range of movements to get over something, and the point is to move from one point to another through the obstacle in as easy a way as possible. When practising this sort of movement, it's important to practice all manner of approaches and combinations and repeating them so it becomes instinctive. There's not really a limit to the number of different 'moves' to use to get over something, just depends on the situation and the person which work.

1:06-1:13. Again just a short movement sequence to show moving through something. Took awhile to film as we had to wait for a gap in pavement-traffic.

1:14-1:16. This is called a cat-pass-precision: the cat-pass is the vault going over the first wall, the precision means landing on a particular thing (the little step). It just shows a vault being used to continue moving forward. I find it quite a weird movement to do, as you have to gauge how much power to put into the vault to get the landing right, and I hadn't done much of this combination until relatively recently (Easter or so).

1:17-1.28. Another cat-pass-precision, this one going upwards. I think this is the best (fastest/most efficient) of getting between the obstacles if I removed the pause at the top. This was my second attempt at this, and I didn't have enough skill to 'stick' the jump to the mill-stone ('stick' meaning land and stay on the spot instead of shuffling or falling forwards).

1.35-1.39. The parkour roll is probably one of the most famous parkour moves, the obvious purpose being to take a height drop without damaging the body. It's necessary when there is downwards and directional movement as the legs alone are only really useful for landing directly downwards (the knees don't like having to stop you fall forwards/sideways), though there are other ways such as landing like a monkey and using your hands to help too. This was the first time I had actually jumped from the top of the monument, having only done it from the penultimate step before. It's great to have steps so that you can practise different heights and work your way up – beginners, start at the bottom! It's surprisingly effective at dissipating the momentum from the drop, but you have to learn the technique pretty well to do it safely; mine isn't good enough that I can do it onto concrete without it hurting, though I could do it fine if I needed to.

1:40-1:54. The clips are in reverse chronological order, but I changed it because I like the way that the guy in white points at what I'm going to do. I did the jump as filmed earlier, and he was explaining to his friends what I had done. I later had a chat with them about it and a couple of them tried a few jumps themselves. This jump I've practised lots of times, it's a bread-and-butter sort of movement.

This spot (the area between St Giles cemetery and war memorial) with the two walls and the monument is probably the standard Oxford parkour location, and is often the meeting point. I've spent many hours jumping around these walls, which aren't much, and a couple of the other places in the video are just round the corner from it.

1.55-2:10. A classic standing jump, called a 'precision' because it's onto a 'precise' point. The important part is to land with balls of the feet on the corner of the object at whatever angle you're coming in at – your feet must be on the line between your centre of mass and the part of the object, otherwise you slip forwards or backwards or cannot stop yourself from moving forwards. The jump down is trickier for the angle of it, to land on the corner correctly, and in this one I'm a little bit too far forward (you can see me tip a bit).

2:11-2:19. This shows me jumping into a wall and bouncing off it, obviously. The point is so that you can jump into a flat surface and bounce off it – sometimes it's a useful way to get somewhere, for example if you want to drop down into an alleyway or as a way to slow you down, but it's also useful for practice incase you're trying to grab the top of a wall and miss.

2:20-2:30. These are just a couple of routes around the rails, just being about fluid movement. The Bruce Lee quote “flow like water” is what we're aiming for. This isn't about finding the most direct way through the obstacle, being instead a way of practising foot placement, co-ordination and a connecting different movements fluidly.

2:35-3:18. This is just balance training with a couple of jumps. Jumping onto a rail ('rail-precisions') is obviously harder than jumping onto a wall and there is less margin for error, plus the mental challenge, but that's why it's useful to practice. When filming this, I made both the jumps the first and second time, though previously I had stuck it less than a third of the time I attempted it (the others with overshoot or undershoot I would just bounce off).

3:19-3:35. Running up a wall is another parkour fundamental: getting over something. You can probably see that reaching the top of this wall isn't too tricky for me, I think the highest I can do is around 13ft – typical walls can't stop us! It's all about practice, power and foot placement. The shimmy along is a method of moving and one that should be trained by repetition, as sometimes it might be necessary to do it at height! It toughens the hands as well as strengthening. I finish with a “climb-up” onto the wall, though if I was trying to go over the wall to begin with I'd do this with the wall-run to get on top.

3:40-3:50. This just shows a couple of precision-jumps from one thing to another. Thinking about how many of these I've done in my three years of parkour, it would probably be a few thousand, as in one session you can do hundreds if that's what you're practising. As I said before, it's about landing on the corner of the object (or if it's rounded, the bit you land on has to be a straight line from your centre of mass to the centre of the curve), otherwise you slip forwards or backwards. It's important to start small and get good technique, as well as practising getting it wrong on purpose – what happens if you put in too much or not enough power or a foot slips – so that if something does go wrong you know how to react to it. Especially if you're doing a jump with a drop on one side, you don't want that to happen!

3:50-4:01. Just showing some different ways of moving in these obstacles.

4:03-4:08. Another cat-pass-precision, going over the first trunk and landing on the second. I think this is where I did my first ever cat-pass-precision.

4:08-4:27. I'm attempting another cat-pass-precision but further along the tree, so the bit I'm landing on is higher (meaning I have to have more height on the jump to make it). I think this was the third occasion I'd done this on, I find them quite scary! I've included some of the mental preparation in the clip to show how that works, as that's often pretty significant. If a jump is mentally challenging, we call it 'breaking the jump' – beating your fear and doing it. This is only done when you know that you can attempt the jump safely, but for some reason you're uncomfortable with it and get a mental block or some fear; if you aren't sure you can do it, it's daredevil stupidity, which is not what parkour is about!

I think it took me two or three minutes to actually do the jump once I decided I was going to do it – sometimes it's about actually checking things like the slippyness of the shoes, others things are just mental tics to go over to get yourself into the right frame of mind to make the jump. I also visualise the jump and run through it in my head – what I will see when I'm in the air, for example – to help me concentrate on it. Sometimes this is useful and necessary, but it's often just a waste of time and one should just get one with it and let instinct deal with it (definitely something I can improve).

4:27-5:22. This clip shows me doing some balancing with a bit of height. You can almost never train balance well enough – when you can run or walk briskly backwards at height with a blindfold, maybe you're there. At height you have to deal with the stress and fear of height too (which actually makes balance worse and impairs you) which is quite useful as mental training too. I do a couple of squats facing forwards, which are good for balance as well as strength (and as Forrest point out to me, good practice for landing rail-precisions), as well as single-leg (pistol) squats, which are better for working strength and also the stabilising muscles around the knee and ankle with the balance. This clip was my first time up on the bar this day (though I've done balance at height a fair amount previously) and I was up there for a few minutes. The kid beneath me was watching and I spoke to him afterwards – I'm sure some people will say that it was dangerous for me to jump and I could have hit him, but I knew that he was far enough away that it was fine, and if I thought there was a chance I would hit him when I fell than I would've grabbed the bar instead of landing on the ground and rolling towards him (falling from lack of balance is usually pretty controlled, and you'll only slip and wipe out if you aren't concentrating or you're trying to run or something).

5:18-5:30. Unfortunately there aren't many overhead bars in Oxford so I don't get to practice swinging on them much, but here's a couple of fun things on them.

5:30-5:40. This shows some movement which is more directly applicable to getting from one place to another. Yay for jumps!

5:40-5:45. This precision was a big deal for me. The clip was the second occasion I've done it, and the first time I did it it took me twenty minutes to 'break' as I was really scared. Physically it was pretty easy, just about technically getting the right angle, but because there was a 1m drop on the other side it gave me loads of fear.

5:45-5:50. Backflip in Christ Church college. I went there to show Brendan as it's in Harry Potter (the first one, the entrance to the great hall, where McGonnagal tells them all to go into the hall to be sorted), but I also wanted to get a clip there. We got up a bit earlier than usual to make sure we were the first tourists there. I just think it's a nice clip for the surroundings!

5:50-5:54. These were a bit scary, but that was the challenge! We thoroughly checked all of the logs beforehand to see if they were stable and slippy – as I do with everything I do, every wall I jump to, I test out the grip and stability. It looks a bit odd when I walk up to a wall and stroke it, but it's useful to do so th

at you don't slip unexpectedly and know how to treat the surface.

5:54-6:08. This is the same cat-pass-precision as earlier, except this time I 'stick' it. This was the first time I'd ever 'stuck' it, and up until this I had made about thirty attempts. To get the right angle and land on the corner you have to reduce the power of the jump a bit to actually get the corner, and mid-air it can be quite scary as you might not think you can make it.

The guy in red at the end is Brendan. Big thanks to him for filming lots of this for me (also thanks Vicky for filming other parts of it!)! He's done parkour for eight years or so and is a coach and performer around the West Midlands area – I owe a lot of my parkour-doing to him, as attending classes he runs was how I started parkour and he teaches me a lot.

I hope you've enjoyed watching this and have a better understanding of what parkour training is. If you think it looks fun (it is!) then maybe you should try it out! It's a great way to keep fit for reasons I said earlier, and is also much much less dangerous than everyone assumes it is (silly prejudices and misunderstandings). If you have any questions, feel free to ask, or just to let me know what you thought =)

A snap from Vienna

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

A summer recap

With summer pretty much over, I thought I'd update you all on what's been happening lately!

What? Who is this guy?

First of all, hello! I'm Nikolay with newly wrangled blogging privileges, ready to be abused! I first started training parkour back in 2005 and by trade, I am a software engineer. I've joined this happy family in May '13 following a bit of a hiatus from parkour, which I allowed to last far longer than it should have.

As Oxford is a University town, a large portion of its population tend to live here only during term time and return home during the holidays. Thus, many of our regular traceurs have not been around lately, meaning that numbers have been down.

What's been happening?

What, you mean other than FreeMove visiting Oxford, the new committee being voted in, The Pump House Project setting up shop down the road in Faringdon and the humbling experience that was Rendezvous 2013?

Lots of training, that's what! I've carried on training over the summer, what with the glorious weather we have been having. Apparently it's not gone unnoticed either as we have had quite a number of people join us for our training sessions, some with previous parkour experience, others completely new to the discipline and it's been amazing training with each and every one of you and watching you guys develop!

On the subject of training sessions, during the holidays we switched over to a much more free-form, collaborative format of training. As such, until the start of term in October, all sessions have been organised on a drop-in drop-out basis, and as such have been completely free.

I've added structure to sessions where it seemed appropriate and/or useful to, but for the most part it's been a case of getting traceurs together in one place and sharing experiences. Learning together the old fashioned way, in short!

Anyone wanting to get involved, jump in on Facebook!